BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, June 1, 2021 (MMS-SKN) — Six months after 65 householders on St. Kitts received a pair of rabbits courtesy of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Rabbit Rearing Project, the regional agency, which has been monitoring the rabbit farmers, is planning to hold a workshop on ‘Agriculture, Health and Food Safety’, and the slaughtering of rabbits in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture.
Technical Specialist, St. Kitts and Nevis IICA Delegation, Ms. Sharon Jones has been visiting some of the 65 backyard farmers who, in October last year as part of a week of activities marking World Food Day 2020 received the rabbits to boost food security at the household level, and in the long term could provide another source of income.
Among the farmers visited to find out how they have been managing the rabbits included Ms. Kimoy Phillip of LaGuerite Village. According to Ms. Jones, “It was pleasant in that we had one person, Ms. Phillips, who not only received the rabbits but was already breeding them and they had multiplied. She now has six rabbits, and they are healthy, and in good condition.”
Ms. Phillip, who praised the IICA Rabbit Rearing Project for working with local farmers, said her intention is to increase the number of rabbits and would also wish to see other people come on board and rear rabbits, not for pets but for food, “so we can feed ourselves, the country and maybe even put some of the rabbit at the market and see how we get them shipped out to various countries as an export.”
Also visited was Mr. Feldon Challenger of Shadwell who had received two rabbits but had not started breeding them as they were still young. He teamed up with a seasoned rabbit farmer, Mr. Melville Mardenborough who apart from passing on knowledge to him.
“Then we met a young boy, Master Craig Jeffers, a student at the Basseterre High School, who though he had not received the rabbits from the project, he was doing very well,” noted Ms. Jones. “And not only that – he had his own little kitchen garden where he was recycling some of the material from his kitchen garden into feeding the rabbits, so that was very good. He is a young chap, so he really needs to be encouraged.”
Others visited were Ms. Florence Dolly Tweede of Humming Bird Development, and Mrs. Isis Phipps of New Road. Ms. Jones who was accompanied by Unit Head at the Livestock Production of the Department of Agriculture, Mr. Miguel Flemming, on the field to visit the farmers noted that they will visit the other recipients to ensure the rabbits are in good condition, from where they will then move on to the next step.
“Once we have decided that the rabbits are in good condition, all the recipients would be invited to a workshop on Agriculture, Health and Food Safety and the slaughtering of rabbits,” said Ms. Jones. “This is to ensure that they adhere to the public health codes because most of them are in their backyard in residential areas. Also, we want to ensure that the households adhere to the health protocols when they slaughter the rabbits and can determine if the rabbits are in good health to consume the meat.”
All the recipients are expected to attend that workshop, which according to Ms. Jones is very important. They will then be invited to another workshop which will be in cage making so that when they multiply their rabbits, they can have cages for the offspring. Farmers who would not have attended the workshop on Agriculture, Health and Food Safety will not be invited to the cage making workshop.
“We will keep monitoring the householders through the course of the year just to ensure that they are doing well,” stated Ms Jones. “I think the goal at the end of the year is that the Ministry of Agriculture wants to have a rabbit festival where the householders can participate.”